IMPRESSIONS THE POPULATION OP PERSIA 249
now lying waste, for the remains of canals and Jcanaats
attest that a process of local depopulation has been going
on. It is the configuration of the country rather than
anything else which accounts for the unpeopled wastes
in some directions, and the constant succession of towns
and populous villages in others.
Of the population thus distributed along hill slopes
and on the plains at the feet of the ranges, there is no
accurate record, and the total has been variously esti-
mated at from six to nine millions. Estimates of the
urban and village populations were in most cases supplied
to me by the Persian loc'al officials, but from these I am
convinced that it is necessary to make a very liberal
deduction. General Schindler, a gentleman for some
years in the Persian Government service, who has
travelled over a great part of Persia with the view of
ascertaining its resources and condition, in the year 1885
estimated its population at 7,653,000. In his analysis
the Christian and the Bakhtiari and Feili Lur popu-
lations are, according to present information, greatly
If I may venture to hazard an opinion, after travelling
over a considerable area of Western Persia, it would be
that the higher estimate is nearest the mark, for the
natural increase in time of peace, as accepted by statists,
is three-quarters per cent per annum, and Persia has had
peace and freedom from famine for very many years.1
The country population consists of rayats or per-
manent cultivators, and Ilyats or nomadic pastoral tribes.
Coal-fields and lead and iron may hereafter produce
commercial centres, but the industry of Persia at present
may be said to be nearly altogether agricxiltural.
1 On this subject there can be no better authority!than the Hon.
George N. Curzon, M.P., who after careful study has estimated the total
population of Persia at over nine millions.